Shady Hollow Garden Club – Camilla Lee

“Adelaide! Enter! I didn’t see you,” David says, as I step into the room. “What a lovely Chinese tunic, the turquoise looks great on you. I think you know everyone here. And Marianne of course. I asked her to join us. Have you met Lauren’s husband, Jack?” The man’s back is to me. He’s tall, broad-shouldered, with dark gray hair, slightly greasy. A hearing aid is tucked behind one ear. I can hear the low rasp of his voice as he talks to Marianne. The tenor of his voice is unmistakable and causes me to shudder. It can’t be that Jack.

“Jack Morgan,” David says. “Let me introduce you.”

There he is. Jack Morgan, the man who pinned me to a wall in the basement of a fraternity house at Yale. Kissing so hard it hurt, a hand groping my sweater. It was next to the boiler room, with the furnace firing on and off. Alcohol on his breath. He was strong, but I beat my fists on him enough and got away. I won’t forget that menacing look.

“Adelaide and I know each other. We go way back, don’t we?” he says, winking. He towers over me in a threatening way. “When I was at Yale. You came over from some girls college for a ‘mixer.’ Now Lauren’s head is turning left to right, uncomfortably aware of a secret we might share.

“Of course I remember you, Jack. How could I forget.” His eyes are bloodshot, his neck flaccid. The ruddy complexion suggests booze. It never occurred to me that Jack Morgan would be the husband of Lauren Morgan. And the ambiguous note she got: “All is not as it Seems.” Does that fit in this puzzle?

“David!” Marianne calls again, insinuating a close friendship. “We need more wine glasses.”

“There’s a carton in the corner of the bedroom,” he answers. David seems oblivious to Marianne’s familiarity; his focus is getting out ice. “Look in there, next to the TV.”

“Adelaide, let me get you a glass of wine,” Bert says, stepping in as host. “What would you like? Red or white?” With a cabernet, I chat with Poppy for a bit. Suddenly I’m aware that Marianne and Jack are both absent, which worries me. It’s not about snooping, but more about concern. I head for the bedroom. Marianne is bent over the carton, sifting through packaging for glasses. “Let me help,” Jack says, hovering. She straightens up.

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  1. Barbara Crouchley says:

    Camilla’s quiet humor and her observant eye make all these characters real and familiar. And her simple sentences laced with such wit ( between the isobars my mind also wanders). Love reading her short stories. Thank you for publishing this….. I’ll see you there but not in the garden club!

  2. isabel Goff says:

    Loved the story Camilla. Thanks. Izzy

  3. Sarah Lee says:

    Great short story! Love the setting and characters. They were all very well developed. I could smell the lilacs!

  4. Freya says:

    Brilliant! Perfect! Spot on! More!

  5. Perfect!! LEE’s timing is spot on. She never lingers too long nor hammers hard on the surprises. Didn’t want the story to end…more PLEASE from this gifted, wry, insightful writer!

  6. MaryEthel Stack says:

    I can hear your voice, Camilla. Glad you can write so positively about community living. Hope you are going to stay in your big, old house. Enjoyed this story.

  7. Judy Taft says:

    Wonderful story by Camilla Lee. She has a seemingly effortless style, a slightly wicked sense of humor, and spot on-observations about people, in this case, the inhabitants of a retirement home.Would love to read more of her work!

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